From Preterm to Postdates {Tampa Bay Home Birth}

This story comes from one incredible mama. In fact, reading her recount and seeing the photos her photographer captured made me ugly cry quite a bit. Knowing her journey to homebirth, and knowing what her family has been through over the years made her triumph that much sweeter. This story shows the validity of midwifery care and how personalized care can change outcomes. When a woman is supported, her wishes honored, and her body and family respected- families bloom in beautiful ways. Get your tissues ready! 

"Wow! Where do I start.... 

My story goes way back to 2006. April 24, 2006 to be exact. I was 24 weeks pregnant with our first born, Stephon Alexander Craig Headley. This day started off to be like any other day... 12 hour shift, get home, eat and settle in for the night. However, things took a turn for the worse. At 9:30 pm I was relaxing in bed with my husband and by 9:30am I woke up in a hospital bed surrounded by friends & family who were crying and holding a baby. April 25, 2006 at 8:15am I became the mother of an angel baby. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. It felt like someone ripped my heart out and left me to die a slow and painful death. Having another would never replace Stephon, but in my mind, I thought it would take away some of the pain. So the planning began. 

March 12, 2007 our rainbow baby was on her way, after 5 LONG months of being on Bedrest. So with my hospital bag in one hand and my birth plan in the other we were on our way to have a baby. An all natural water birth is what I had planned. Unfortunately, when we arrived, a room with a tub was not available and from there on my birth plan seemed non existent. After 6 hours of non medicated labor I stalled at 9.5cm, Pitocin is what the doc thought was best(NOT!). At this point I was exhausted, so I caved and asked for the epidural. 10 minutes later, our healthy Rainbow baby was born.

Between March 2007 - September 2011 we welcomed three baby girls. With each pregnancy I was labeled as "high risk" put on bed rest, weekly progesterone shots, ultrasounds bi-weekly, procardia and the list goes on. 

Although each pregnancy ended with a healthy baby, I still did not have the labor that I wanted. Actually, the labor I deserved. I gave up on my dream to have a natural birth. I allowed the "high risk" label to deter me from what I truly wanted. So I finally decided that if God were to ever bless us with another baby things would be different. It had to be, it would be my last chance to have the birth that I dreamed of. 

I had know idea that we would be blessed so soon hahaha but by May 28, 2013 we were expecting baby girl #4 (yup! I know! FOUR GIRLS!!). This time around I was informed, I did my research and I knew a home birth was an option. A safe option for me AND my baby. Luckily, we were able to find a wonderful midwife, Charlie-Rae Young. Charlie helped me trust my body again, she made me realize that my pregnancy didn't have to be so stressful. It is a celebration, a joyous time. Not only for mommy and daddy, but for my kids as well. 

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February 2, 2014 was a big day for hubby and I.. It was our yearly Super Bowl party. Being almost 41 weeks preggo, I was eager to get labor going. On this day contractions were every 10 minutes, but I brushed it off, and went about my business. We had a blast stuffing our face, dancing(trying to evict baby), watching the game and playing dominoes. By 2:30am I woke up to horrible back pain. I had a feeling it was time but I kept telling hubby "nooo, calm down!! I've been in pain like this for weeks" ha! Good thing he forced me to call Charlie hehe because sure enough, it was the real thing!! 

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This is it!! It's time! Contractions every 5 mins!! The moment I've been anticipating is finally here. Charlie arrived around 3am and started setting up right away.The sense of calm in my house was exactly how I had hoped it would be. I paced back and forth breathing through each contraction while waiting for the tub to fill. As soon as the birthing tub was full, I hopped right in.

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The warm water was AMAZING!!!!!!! My Christmas tree in February (yes, I left my tree up JUST for this moment) gave the perfect lighting.[Sean Headley]  Inhaling the scent of lavender and exhaling slowly my husband and Mary Catherine put pressure on my lower back. My munchkin was in a funky position which caused back labor.. NOT FUN AT ALL. Around 5:30am, after a couple hours of intense labor, my contractions completely disappeared. At this point I was exhausted and getting discouraged. I needed reassurance that things were moving along, so I asked Charlie to check for dilation. Sure enough! I was fully dilated with a bulging bag of waters and no contractions.

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On one hand it was the break I needed, but on the other hand I wanted to keep going so I could get it over with and finally see my baby. While contractions decided to take a hike, we all took a well needed breather. After what felt like hours of no contractions(probably 10mins) I asked Charlie to go ahead and break my bag of waters. I knew that that would get the ball rolling again, and I was right! Contractions came back with a vengeance, so back in the tub I went.

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I began to push in hopes that she would come flying out haha but munchkin definitely had other plans. I got out of the tub and leaned over hubby and pushed with everything inside of me.

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I pushed and grunted until she finally crowned. Charlie and my birth photographer knew how bad I wanted to birth in the water, so they both convinced me to head back in the tub. On all fours in the birthing tub, while screaming "my poor f'ing vagina" (BTW sorry Charlie & Mary Catherine for my potty mouth) her head finally made an appearance.

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I continued to push with each contraction, but her body just would NOT come out. Charlie decided it was best to come out of the tub and get on all fours. Let me tell ya! Climbing out of a tub at 40 weeks preggo with a baby head sticking out is no easy task haha .But it was the best decision because once getting out of the tub and on all fours, my beautiful baby girl was born. Right in my arms.

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vanessa home birth
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It was breathtaking... Liberating, even. Everything that I dreamed of. It was my first time being able to be so in tune with my body. I was running the show. I made all the decisions and although I didn't birth her in the water, I was not laying flat on my back with people yelling at me to push harder. My kids woke up to see that their sister was finally here. They were so eager to meet her. Mary Catherine and Charlie helped me to the couch where we waited patiently for the cord to stop pulsing and wait for the placenta to be delivered.

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With my kids and husband by my side, I felt complete. Mary Catherine ran me a shower and tucked us into bed. My wonderful friend prepared us breakfast and we enjoyed the rest of the day in bed relishing the moment as a family. 

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Thank you Charlie and Mary Catherine for believing in me. All your kind words of encouragement throughout my pregnancy and labor is exactly what I needed. I can now say that I finally had the labor that I have always dreamed of. We sure went out with a bang!! 

Special thanks to Vanessa's photographer, Shauntrel Bennet, this was her very first birth and I think she did a fabulous job!